LANCASTER, Pa. – Four golds in five individual events – plus another relay record – has the Ursinus College women's swimming team on the cusp of another Centennial Conference title.
The Bears widened their lead on the rest of the field with a dominating performance that included a new CC benchmark in the 400 medley relay and a 1-2 finish in two events, including a podium sweep of the 100 back.
Heading into Sunday's finale, Ursinus owns 632 team points and a 200-point margin on second-place Swarthmore in its quest for a fifth consecutive CC title.
For the third time in as many nights, the Bears began Saturday's finals session by breaking the CC record in a relay. This time it was the opening 400 medley relay, as Lyons, Tierney, Baker, and Gundersen did the honors with a 3:50.03 that currently ranks 12th in Division III and routed runner-up Gettysburg by nearly six seconds. Ursinus has now won the 400 medley relay at the last three CC championships and has reset four conference relay marks in the last three days.
For good measure, the foursome of freshman Katherine Kurzinsky, sophomore Haley Sturla, senior Katherine Porter, and senior Meggie Leitz dominated the B final in 3:56.02, the third-best time of the night.
After that came a barrage of gold that would have made Scrooge McDuck blush.
Tierney started the party with a 4:39.06 in the 400 IM, narrowly edging junior Caroline Powell's 4:39.72 to become the first Ursinus women's swimmer to claim first place in the event. Junior Katherine Madden placed sixth in 4:42.02, and junior Gabriella Timuscuk prevailed in the B final at 4:43.18.
Baker then became the third three-time 100 fly champion in conference history, touching in 55.93 at the head of a 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Bears. Porter was second with another NCAA B cut time of 56.74, and Leitz took bronze at 57.43.
Gundersen captured her first career gold in the 200 free with a B cut clocking of 1:52.49, with freshman Sophie May nabbing silver with a 1:53.81.
The Bears had four other place winners in the 200 free – junior Kathryn Longenecker (1:57.69) in 10th, freshman Allison Thomas (1:58.28) in 11th, sophomore Margrethe Leis (1:58.37) in 12th, and senior Rachel Weil (2:00.03) in 16th.
Sturla placed fifth in the 100 breast at 1:07.65, and Timuscuk finished eighth (1:09.34).
Lyons capped the night with her third career gold in the 100 back, just missing her own conference and meet record with a 56.57 that put her close to two seconds in front of Gettysburg's Savannah Llewellyn. Lyons is the fourth three-time 100 back champ in CC history, and the Bears' second, joining Malena Lair Ferrari (2011-12-14).
Kurzinsky won bronze in the 100 back at 58.37, and Leitz (59.28) placed fifth.
The CC championship meet concludes on Sunday, beginning with prelims in the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, and 1650 free.